The governor's budget director is challenging the Montana Legislature for painting what he describes to be an artificially gloomy budget picture.

David Ewer told an interim committee of lawmakers Monday it is now clear that more money was available than the Republican-led Legislature used for its budget. Democrats say that money could have been used for many things, such as more state construction projects to spur job growth.

Legislative staffers are predicting there will be an extra $265 million left at the end of the current two-year budget period. Ewer says that is still too low by at least $50 million.

Republicans on the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee counter that lawmakers were wise to guess low because the possibility of a second recession looms.

Associated Press